The Real Paul Jones

Accept no substitutes

Steve Snow founder of Charlotte’s Web and community networking champion dies

Steve Snow at right. Gates at CenterWhen I met Steve Snow, he was not only embarking on a life-changing journey, he was embarking on a journey in which he changed others lives as well.

Charlotte’s Web (here in 1997) was conceived before the Web was really or readily available to all. Steve saw potential for strong and broad democratic involvement aided by technology that would transform communities like Charlotte reaching out to the homeless and to public housing equally with outreach to those more privileged.

Charlotte’s Web had a fantastic start then ran into trouble, mostly political due to it’s involvement with various parts of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg government each of whom had a financial stake and so a policy stake in the enterprise.

Steve somehow managed to manage CharWeb through that time and into the future until about 2001 when picked up the project and Steve left.

Steve was an outspoken advocate of full-community participation in the online community. He helped found the Association for Community Networking and advocated for access for the homeless.

Steve still cared about and was involved in community even in his counseling and consulting practice in Asheville, NC, which he named CommCure. In his own biography on the CommCare site, he described himself this way:
“Among his primary interests academically are integrating human needs and technical infrastructure and Jungian applications of SandPlay in virtual environments. He also has a deep commitment to addressing complex trauma in children and adults, with a special emphasis on men who commit domestic, family or interpersonal violence, an area for which he is a regular speaker in national and international conferences.”

The final sentence rings true especially as it pertains to Steve’s commitment to others: ” If you are interested in talking about any of these things, please send an e-mail note and he’ll reply quickly.”

If only that were still true in fact as well as spirit.

Steve died suddenly on December 27th in Asheville, NC.

About the photo: 4/11/96 – Steve Snow, on the right, is shown with Bill Gates, founder and chariman of Microsoft, during Gates’ visit to the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Virtual Library. GARY O’BRIEN/

Alert! @andycarvin be talking about Steve Snow (and maybe Steve Cisler) on Talk of the Nation tomorrow December 31 at 2pm EST.


  1. Steve was a great inspiration beyond the US, as I’ve reported here So sorry to lose him.

  2. I met Steve early into the Charlotte’s Web project. Along with Caroline Felton and David Ramsey, Steve took many of us on the journey. I was a programmer at NationsBank at the time. I wrote code at a “dumb terminal” all day, in a tall office building near the corner of Trade & Tryon…
    One day I was in the main branch of the public library at lunch break. A buddy came over. He said to check out the geek show…
    I walked in & met Caroline. She walked me over to where David & Steve were huddled, deep in conversation.
    Dave had perfected a self service email sign up screen, on what I soon learned was a “web browser”. He asked me to test it for him. I filled in the information, and he pulled out a singal sheet of paper.
    “Your ID is web19… ”
    “What will I do with it?”
    “Log in when you get home. You’ll see…”

    When Charlotte’s Web closed up shop, I heard they had ID’s up to 25,000. The Charlotte Observer took over the email accounts for them, along with their domain name…

    Yeah, Steve wasn’t a business man. He never had a viable business model.
    He irritated the people who could have given him enough money to be at it forever…

    Steve Snow was a visionary. He saw the potential. He saw what COULD be.

    Our job is to keep his vision alive…

  3. In 1997 the Community network was just a blury idea. Without doubt, he was a visionary man.

  4. ….and which is more important for the world, the visionary or the business man……?

  5. Where the Snow Falls

    Between the river birch and fragrant pine
    Branches weighed by memories of a friend
    Whose life was laughter, well lived over time
    And though he is gone, we will meet again.

    In a kinder world and a sacred place
    You believed that love was a right and choice
    For children and the lost to welcome grace
    Learn to trust again, blossom and rejoice.

    Your life carved its path through wood, song and word
    Renaissance man in the deep winter’s dark
    In a world of chaos, driven by sword
    You were the springtime, the song of a lark.

    Where the snow falls flowers still bloom and grow
    In prison courtyards among silent cries
    And bare footed angels speak that we’ll know
    A time from ashes when all will arise.

    In loving memory of Steve Snow,
    Angel, friend and advocate.
    25 January 2009

  6. After knowing Steve as a trusted therapist for over a year, he encouraged me to begin writing again and to express my visions through poetry. This was a huge breakthrough for me as I had come to a new safe place where my past experience of domestic abuse was no longer a threat to my life and soul.

    Je Suis

    I am she …who dreams
    And flys at night
    When dark clouds cover stars
    And moon, takes flight

    Who sails through tempests
    Knowing not where
    The stormy course will lead
    Or what will fare

    I am the eye of the storm,
    And upon my wings
    Rise above on dragon’s fire

    To eternal things

    I am…a chrysalis, an emerging


    I am I.

    (October 2006)

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